LEE WATERS AM has obtained figures from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) that suggest a significant number of people in Llanelli have been left short-changed by Universal Credit.
Responding to a letter sent by Lee Waters, the DWP have said that up to 15% of people moving on to Universal Credit receive a late, or non-full first payment, and that 5% of claimants still haven’t received a payment after 5 weeks.
Lee Waters AM said “It’s appalling that the Tory government in Westminster has botched the roll out of Universal Credit so spectacularly. They’ve shamelessly taken money out of people’s pockets through continued austerity, and managed to do a bad job of managing the new system too. “The figures I’ve seen are staggering, and this is clearly a problem with the whole setup of Universal Credit, not a result of simple mistakes.” Lee Waters added.
Full roll out of Universal Credit began in Llanelli in December, and by February of this year 1000 people in Llanelli were in receipt of the new benefit. DWP’s own figures suggest that 150 of these people did not receive a payment on time, with another 50 waiting more than the target five weeks for payment, affecting people and families ability to plan and pay bills on time.
If the pattern continues these numbers will grow considerably as Universal Credit rolls out in Llanelli, over 500 households could be left waiting over 5 weeks for their first payment. This wait will threaten their ability to pay regular household bills, such as rent, gas, electricity and council tax.
“The Welsh Labour Government can help ease the pain of Universal Credit here in Wales, such as providing support with Council Tax payments and ending the threat of imprisonment for late payment. But we don’t control the benefit system. We have to see a change in Government in Westminster, to one that supports the vulnerable rather than punishing them.” said Lee Waters.